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Thread: The Concept of Privilege

  1. #251
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I do, on a daily basis.

    You need to stop seeing this as an either/or.
    At no point have I ever suggested, thought, or said this is "either/or." You are apparently reading things into my posts I di dnot put there. If you think otherwise, please show me the post where I said or implied "either/or." It was certainly not said or implied in the post you just responded to. I wrote both sentences as statements of reality - the implication being both/and, not either/or.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    And that doesn't describe me. You are being disingenuous, or, at best, ignorant, by making that sweeping claim. You can't seem to get it through your head, for whatever reason, that it can be a "both".
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

  2. #252
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I can't let this go.... I am absolutely AMAZED that people see Obama and King as anything near "same".

    Obama is a self-centered all-talk-no-action elitist benefiting in every possible way from his own brand of black privilege.

    King, on the other hand, was an "in the streets" "where the rubber hits the road" practical active dedicated 100% committed "do something about it" activist.

    Do you REALLY think that Obama would have risked going to jail repeatedly for his cause?

    It really hacks me when somebody tries to equate Obama with King.
    You asked for a list, and I gave you one. Both Obama and King are on it. There are similarities between the men, and significant differences. Why you felt that I was saying "they are the same" is beyond me. No two people on that list are "the same."

    CP - you insert a lot of things into my posts I do not put there, and then object to them. You're not objecting to anything I've actually said - your objecting to the meaning you've added that I did not put there.

    As for Obama - we definitely do not see him in the same light. I know the right is badly polarized against him, but most of what you just said is either untrue, or a gross exaggeration, IMO.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

  3. #253
    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    This is an excellent question. To what degree is the success of "good looking people" an "injustice?" This is a great example of something not being a clear case of social injustice, yet possibly containing some elements of it. So, the good looking sales person will, all other skills being even, tend to out-perform a person who does not have those good looks. Why? Because we are attracted to beauty, as a function of how the human mind works. Is that reality an injustice in an of itself. No, I don't think so, but it can become one under the right (wrong?) circumstances. Therefore, I would definitely advocate for elements in K-12, college, and hiring/training programs that addresses the "don't judge a book by its cover," problem. In my experience, the first step to dealing with a potential problem is to make people aware it exists.

    Then, within companies, we can address "beauty bias" by making sure our advancement criteria are merit-based. If a sales manager refuses to hire people they find unattractive because their chance of success is statistically lower - that is a problem. It discriminates against the individual based on a statistic about the group. But, as I said, I don't necessarily see a problem that needs fixing just because a good looking person succeeds.
    I honestly can't tell if you're being serious or sarcastic.

  4. #254
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    I honestly can't tell if you're being serious or sarcastic.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

  5. #255
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonhard View Post
    The fact that the meaning of words as they are in use change, in no way implies relativism of any kind. If you believe that, then you'd have to believe that C.S Lewis was a relativist, because he said that the word 'gentleman' no longer referred to a man belonging to the English gentry, but later referred to any man of good, courteous conduct.

    In other words, welcome to Etymology 101 Mountain Man. It's a fascinating world.
    Haven't read through the thread yet, so excuse me if it's already been mentioned, but as I recall, Lewis bemoans this fact, and is actually making (what appears to me) MM's point,

    People ask: "Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?": or "May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?" Now this objection is in one sense very right, very charitable, very spiritual, very sensitive. It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the history of another, and very much less important, word.

    The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone "a gentleman" you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not "a gentleman" you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said - so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully - "Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?" They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man "a gentleman" in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is "a gentleman" becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object. (A 'nice' meal only means a meal the speaker likes.) A gentleman, once it has been spiritualised and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

    Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say 'deepening', the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word. In the first place, Christians themselves will never be able to apply it to anyone. It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men's hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense. And obviously a word which we can never apply is not going to he a very useful word. As for the unbelievers, they will no doubt cheerfully use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrichment of the language, for we already have the word good. Meanwhile, the word Christian will have been spoiled for any really useful purpose it might have served.

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    Haven't read through the thread yet, so excuse me if it's already been mentioned, but as I recall, Lewis bemoans this fact, and is actually making (what appears to me) MM's point,

    People ask: "Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?": or "May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?" Now this objection is in one sense very right, very charitable, very spiritual, very sensitive. It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the history of another, and very much less important, word.

    The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone "a gentleman" you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not "a gentleman" you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said - so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully - "Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?" They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man "a gentleman" in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is "a gentleman" becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object. (A 'nice' meal only means a meal the speaker likes.) A gentleman, once it has been spiritualised and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

    Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say 'deepening', the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word. In the first place, Christians themselves will never be able to apply it to anyone. It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men's hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense. And obviously a word which we can never apply is not going to he a very useful word. As for the unbelievers, they will no doubt cheerfully use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrichment of the language, for we already have the word good. Meanwhile, the word Christian will have been spoiled for any really useful purpose it might have served.
    One can bemoan reality all one wishes, but the fact is that words do change over time, aand have done so as far back as we have written records. Languages evolve, die out, give rise to new languages, and change. Words are an entirely human construct, and they are no more or less fixed than humanity itself. As Leon noted - that is the entire world of etymology.

    They SHOULD not change so rapidly, or at the whims of an individual, or communication will cease to be possible. But they should nto be so fixed that they cannot reflect the changes society itself undergoes. Not too long ago, "google" meant a decimal number with 100 zeroes behind it. Today, most have forgotten that meaning (though it is still there), and associated the word with Internet searches, or the company. As long as we all agree on the meanings of the words we use, change is not a problem. That is why disctionaries don't add or alter meanings until widespread use is shown.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 02-02-2018 at 04:45 PM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

  7. #257
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    One can bemoan reality all one wishes, but the fact is that words do change over time, aand have done so as far back as we have written records. Languages evolve, die out, give rise to new languages, and change. Words are an entirely human construct, and they are no more or less fixed than humanity itself. As Leon noted - that is the entire world of etymology.

    They SHOULD not change so rapidly, or at the whims of an individual, or communication will cease to be possible. But they should nto be so fixed that they cannot reflect the changes society itself undergoes. Not too long ago, "google" meant a decimal number with 100 zeroes behind it. Today, most have forgotten that meaning (though it is still there), and associated the word with Internet searches, or the company. As long as we all agree on the meanings of the words we use, change is not a problem. That is why disctionaries don't add or alter meanings until widespread use is shown.
    Uh...What? I'm not certain what this reply has to do with my post. I haven't debated whether words change meaning, I'm merely pointing out to Leon that I think he may have misread/forgotten Lewis' point.

  8. #258
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    Uh...What? I'm not certain what this reply has to do with my post. I haven't debated whether words change meaning, I'm merely pointing out to Leon that I think he may have misread/forgotten Lewis' point.
    Ohh... then I misunderstood you. My bad.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

  9. #259
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    But apparently people have their shorts in a knot because I used the word "privilege" and upset their sensibilities. If you don't like the word, suggest another one. Benefits? Advantages? Enhancements?

    Which word would make it possible to actually discuss the issue, rather than the freaking word? I'll be happy to switch to it.
    My suggestion was to instead talk about the problem, rather than not-the-problem.
    Like, is not being tortured a "privilege"? or "benefit"? or "advantage" etc. No, it should be the norm. And if people are unjustly being tortured then that would be the problem and the thing to be discussed. There is no need to talk of a "privilege" of non-victims of injustice. It is sufficient to deal with the injustice.

    I suspect that many people insist on talking about not-the-problem ("privilege", "advantage", etc.) because they mistakenly are thinking of the inequality as a/the problem. The problem is not inequality. If it were, then inequality in torture could be remedied by torturing everyone equally. If some people are being tortured and others are not, then the we would need to work to end torture. If someone is unjustly tortured, the injustice does not lie in the inequality. The injustice of it does not depend on whether there exists others who are not being unjustly tortured.

  10. Amen Zymologist amen'd this post.
  11. #260
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    My suggestion was to instead talk about the problem, rather than not-the-problem.
    Like, is not being tortured a "privilege"? or "benefit"? or "advantage" etc. No, it should be the norm. And if people are unjustly being tortured then that would be the problem and the thing to be discussed. There is no need to talk of a "privilege" of non-victims of injustice. It is sufficient to deal with the injustice.

    I suspect that many people insist on talking about not-the-problem ("privilege", "advantage", etc.) because they mistakenly are thinking of the inequality as a/the problem. The problem is not inequality. If it were, then inequality in torture could be remedied by torturing everyone equally. If some people are being tortured and others are not, then the we would need to work to end torture. If someone is unjustly tortured, the injustice does not lie in the inequality. The injustice of it does not depend on whether there exists others who are not being unjustly tortured.
    I understand the distinction, but I'm not sure it ultimately makes a difference. In my experience, pointing to how some people are "disadvantaged" is rejected by the right as much as pointing to how others are being "advantaged." To me, the shift to "advantaged" is an attempt to bring it home. If we talk about disadvantaged, we're talking about "them" and the response is often that "they" should just suck up and deal with it. If we talk about advantages, we are talking about things we get to experience every day, and how others are barred from it in some respect. I have to admit that does not seem to change the response very often, but that is why I take that approach.

    Another example of a systemic advantage/disadvantage, this being one we have actually taken steps to address, is the issue of access. We went around for years building curbs, sidewalks, escalators, and a variety of things that those of us with two functioning legs simply took for granted. We had the "privilege" of being able to go pretty much anywhere we wanted, blind to the fact that people in wheelchairs were being systematically denied access to many things the rest of us could get to. Early attempts to address this issue met the same kind of resistance from many of the same cast of characters. We heard about "sucking it up." We heard about "are you going to go out and re-engineer all of nature?" It took a while before we saw laws passed that essentially said, "if you're going to build something, you have to keep in mind that not all people have two working legs." If you look at the debate about the ADA, the objections came from the right. If you look at the vote, while it passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, all of the nays came from the right. Today, fortunately, this has now become commonplace. That doesn't mean we're all equal. There are still places people in wheelchairs cannot go. But we no longer design the things we build in such a way as to explicitly exclude these people.

    This is the kind of thing I am referring to, but now not along physical/ability lines, but along racial, gender, ethnic, religion, sexual orientation, etc. lines. Addressing these systemic problems is not going to make us all equal, or all the same. What it will do is eliminate unjust differentiations that we are creating, and don't need to - like the curb that cannot allow a wheelchair-bound person to cross the street from one sidewalk to another. What I do not understand, is why there is such a consistent resistance from the right to look at these issues, identify the ones that need addressing, and address them. I am seeing that resistance in this discussion again, and I do not understand it. To me, this is simply common sense: you do not let injustice linger - you address it.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 02-02-2018 at 06:20 PM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

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